Award-Winning Broadway Actress
& Theater Professor
Since graduating from Seton Hall, actress Crystal Dickinson ’98 has performed at Lincoln Center and The Atlantic Theater Company and has appeared on television in Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne.” In 2012, she landed a plum role in the Pulitzer-Prize, Tony-award winning play “Clybourne Park.”
For her performance, Dickinson was awarded the prestigious Theater World Award, given to outstanding newcomers to the Broadway stage, joining previous winners such as Marlon Brando, Julie Andrews and Dustin Hoffman. In her acceptance speech, Dickinson thanked her Seton Hall theater professor: “While I was [an undergraduate] I met a wonderful professor named Deirdre Yates, who inspired me to get my MFA. The rest is history.”
In a testament to the kind of connection students make with their professors at Seton Hall, Yates took a personal interest in Dickinson. She traveled to the dorms to encourage the young actress to try out for one role; Dickinson subsequently performed a major part in every play Yates directed while she was an undergraduate at Seton Hall. The professor also used her own time to prepare Dickinson to audition for graduate programs. “She even drove me to the audition in New York and waited outside the door for me,” Dickinson says.
“What I learned from Deirdre when I was at Seton Hall was that I had something inside that was special, that I could share,” Dickinson says. “If nothing else, when I teach today, my goal is to help students find that special thing about themselves. If I do, I think I have done a good thing because someone doing that for me changed my life.”